Revise Campaigns to Boost Exposure

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Advertisers will continue to spend online, with the online ad market reaching $25.9 billion in 2011, nearly 9 percent of U.S. ad spending, according to an August U.S. online advertising forecast 2006-2011 report from JupiterResearch.

The study also noted online ad spending grew 40 percent in 2005 and projected it to rise 21 percent in 2006.

With companies investing in online advertising at such an unprecedented pace, it's time to take another look at how ad dollars are being spent. This article examines three areas that ensure maximum effectiveness and value from your pay-per-click ads.

Selecting keywords. Keywords are the building blocks for any PPC ad campaign. They are the terms and phrases that an Internet visitor types in when searching for an advertiser's product or service.

Proper selection of these terms is vital. Keywords that are generic tend to drive high-volume traffic to a Web site, and thus demand higher bid prices. Conversely, the traffic generated by these generic terms may be less targeted.

Let's say you are advertising on the keyword "jacket." Such a broad term could attract users seeking anything from "leather jackets" to "children's fall jackets." However, selecting very specific keywords may produce insufficient exposure in PPC results. If you were advertising only on the keyword phrase "children's fake-fur-lined pink winter jacket," there would be many fewer requests for this phrase.

To ensure the greatest exposure to a target audience, advertisers should bid on a mix of generic and specific keywords. The ratio depends on the objectives of your PPC campaign and your budget.

To decide which keywords to select, use the keyword selection tools that each PPC player provides. But remember, each PPC player differs. User patterns and search behavior can vary across PPC engines, especially when advertising on main engines such as Google and Yahoo, which are consumer facing and can receive a higher amount of general Web searches. Other PPC engines have networks of different distribution partners in specific vertical sectors and can receive more targeted traffic.

So, the right keyword selection for Miva may not be right for Google or vice versa. Consider the differences on each PPC engine so that changes can be made within a campaign to maximize ROI.

Which position should your ad be in? Positioning of your PPC ad can determine how many Internet visitors are exposed to an ad. Positioning (i.e., first, second or third position, etc.) is determined on most PPC engines by your bid on a particular keyword. Miva research indicates that 75 percent of click-throughs are on the top five PPC ads, with the ad in the first position drawing about 30 percent.

Keywords that are most relevant to your business goals should be placed within the top results to ensure they receive higher click-throughs. You also should aim to bid for top positions for the business' branded terms. When a potential customer searches for a term related to your company and other product results are returned, a customer may click through to your competition simply because you were not there.

Adopt a different positioning strategy for different keywords. And remember, while most PPC engines determine position solely on bid price, Google AdWords instead combines bid price (cost per click) and quality score, which takes into account click-through rates, historical performance and other relevant factors. If you are using AdWords for the first time, it is wise to have a high maximum CPC initially to compensate for your ad not having a historical performance with Google.

Campaign maintenance and analysis. One beauty of PPC ads is that they are measurable and flexible. To maximize ROI, adjust your keyword and bidding strategy based on the ad's performance.

To learn more about a visitor's behavior on your site, a tracking URL can be used to analyze campaign results. Using information gathered from tracking also helps answer more elementary questions such as, "Am I using the right keywords to advertise my Web site?" and "Are my current keywords directing the right visitor traffic to my site?" Some PPC advertising firms provide tracking services, while others encourage the advertiser to use a third party with centralized analytics.

Technologies and consumer habits change rapidly. What was a popular keyword yesterday might not be the case today. A successful PPC ad accounts for the shifts in the marketplace and reacts accordingly. Ongoing campaign analysis lets you stay competitive and maximize ROI.

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Founded in September 2009, Stirista is an integrated marketing agency that specializes in ...